One league that has always been the redheaded stepchild (no offense meant to gingers or stepchildren) to me is the Bundesliga. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy the league and how the German fans are so involved with the teams they support, (Schalke Cemetery) they could even be with the club through death. I figured, why not learn about these clubs with die-hard (pun intended if you’d wish) fans? But more than that, I looked into a few U.S. Soccer players (so you didn’t have to) who have played in Germany and noticed that most German clubs, similar to English clubs, take in American imports/players to hone skills to liken them to the German system. With that said, a handful of U.S. players have spread their wings in Germany and some of that handful has succeeded, some others…not so much, but they are getting there.
One of the breakout players for the USMNT in 2012 was midfielder Michael Bradley, who, though is making strides (literally and figuratively) by owning his role as pitch general at AS Roma, once had to fight for his starting lineup position at Borussia Monchengladbach in 2008. The 25-year old did not flourish at ‘Gladbach but his time spent there was more of a catalyst of frustration which led Bradley to go on loan to Aston Villa in the Premier League, and finally to Italy, where the style of play has drastically improved his awareness for the central midfield role he plays at AS Roma and for the USMNT. (Bradley profile)
Like Bradley did a little over a decade ago, other younger players are signing with European clubs in their ripe old ages of 17 or 18 (Bradley was 16 when he signed with Dutch side FC Heerenveen). Hailing from the island state of Hawaii, Bobby Wood has been biding his time at 1860 Munich (Wood roster spot) – where he joined the southern German club in 2005 – and recently signed his first professional contract a few weeks ago (I’m sure a great Christmas present) that will last until 2016 (Wood signs pro deal). Keep a look out for his name in the coming years. Promising young American forward, he is.
The ever so veritable ‘villain’ of the USMNT (so aptly nicknamed by me because of his indecision to play for the US), Timmy Chandler, has played in Germany throughout his life, thanks to an American serviceman father and a German mother. The FC Nuremberg defender has rescinded his offer from Klinsmann to play in World Cup Qualifiers and other international matches a few times this year, so he has yet to be cap-tied to any country – whether Germany or the United States. Most recently, however, the offensive-minded fullback has made steps to secure a spot in the 23-man roster for the USMNT (Commitment from Chandler). So as Chandler continues to excel in Germany, US supporters hope that he will make those same strides with the USMNT…along with the commitment.
Moving to Germany was a great spot to land for former MLSer from Chivas USA, Portland Timbers, and Kansas City Wizards, Matt Taylor. The 31-year old scored a hat trick in August for German side SC Preußen Münster (), and has been flourishing as this stat shows: 14 goals, 5 assists, 20 games. (Taylor playing well in Germany). Although he will most likely never to be featured on Klinsmann’s USMNT squad, here’s hoping Taylor will finish his career (whenever that will be) with fine form playing in Germany.
Along with Taylor finding his playing niche in Germany, so has USMNT veteran Steve Cherundolo. Always the steady man at the back, Cherundolo has played for the United States since his debut for the US team in 1999. What’s even more rare these days is Cherundolo’s club career, practically tenured by now, has been solely at the Bundesliga club, Hannover 96, since the 1998-1999 season. Plaudits to Cherundolo as his consistent play and club loyalty for Hannover has eventually rewarded the U.S. international with the captain’s armband and the nickname, ‘Mayor of Hannover.’ Also, who wouldn’t want to be his friend after watching this ‘USMNT in…’ video? ()
Jermaine Jones, the yellow (or red)-card-waiting-to-happen midfielder has brought hard-hitting tackles and some flair to the U.S. team, but has also had decent success at a few German clubs before settling down at Schalke. He is an off-the-cusp player for many U.S. supporters but as he once played for the Germany U-21 team, he is a fan favorite there for his solid style of play. Here’s his second ever goal for the USMNT, with the assist coming from Landon Donovan. ()
Two other players who have played in Germany, or are currently playing in Germany, include Michael Parkhurst and Terrence Boyd. Parkhurst, who recently transferred from Denmark’s FC Nordsjaelland to Germany’s FC Augsburg, will be able to showcase his talent in the German league. Although the Bundesliga side is tied for 18th (out of 18 teams), the move looks to be a promising decision – even with a looming relegation – for the American defender searching for options to catch Klinsmann’s eye to open up more playing time for the USMNT. (Parkhurst to Germany)
Terrence Boyd, currently playing for SK Rapid Wien (Rapid Vienna) in Austria, grew up playing football in Germany at the Hertha Berlin youth system and eventually played for Borussia Dortmund II before heading to Vienna, Austria. Judging by his tenacity and drive from the following clip, Boyd’s German-grown technical ability is a valuable asset to the USMNT as well as any club team for which he plays (). Also, in the historic (friendly) win against Mexico for the United States, Boyd showed great awareness of where the goal was as well as his teammate, and then performed a cheeky back heel to goal-scorer Michael Orozco-Fiscal. ()
If Boyd continues to play as well as he has been, he’ll be a great substitute, and possible starter, and spark in play for the USMNT.
Lastly, another newcomer in recent years for the USMNT is German-American Fabian Johnson. The Hoffenheim midfielder (Johnson profile) has blessed the US National Team with his presence at left back, as that position has often been a sore subject. His silky moves on the ball for Hoffenheim provides hope for the future for the US team. (Also shown in this clip: Danny Williams – Johnson Hoffenheim goals)
With the amount of drive and passion that the USMNT Bundesliga players like Bradley (former), Wood, Chandler, Taylor, Cherundolo, Jones, Parkhurst, Boyd, and Johnson have, it looks like we have definite options to replace ‘older’ players with some tremendous talent. I think it’s time for me to pay more attention to the Bundesliga. No more shunning from me, Germany. In fact, Guten Tag, Deutschland.